The township of Smithfield (Smith’s field), is supposed to have been so called from David Smith, who claimed the township under the Connecticut title, but never lived in the town. It is situated geographically, between the townships of Ridgebury and Athens on the North, Ulster on the east, Burlington and West Burlington on the south, and Springfield on the west. The township includes an area of about forty square miles. Its surface is a high table-land, broken somewhat by the several streams which find their sources in the hill, and flow southward into Sugar Creek, and east-southward into the Susquehanna. The principal streams are the Tom Jack Creek (so named from Tom Jack, a noted Indian, who a century ago had his wigwam near the junction of this stream with Sugar Creek) which takes its rise in the northwest part of the town, Brown Creek and its tributaries in the eastern portion of the township, Buck Creek in the northeast, and a branch of Tom Jack in the southwest. The soil is fruitful, and where once stood a dense growth of hemlocks, pines, and hard woods, are beautiful fields, well tilled, dotted with an occasional piece of timberland. Smithfield is essentially an agricultural town, dairying and stock-raising being the principal business of the inhabitants.
The inhabitants of Smithfield are worthy scions of that noble New England stock, to whom a nation owes a lasting gratitude for its enlightenment and independence. Though driven into exile, and bound by oppression, the noble spirit of the Puritans could not be crushed, nor their purpose defeated. Free schools and colleges were established, and printing presses set up--all in opposition to the tyranny of Great Britain. Religious books were published, and through them and preaching of the Gospel, great good was disseminated and the morals of the people raised to a high standard. In short, the people were being educated, and thus leading their way to independence. When the time at last came, New England was the first to come out boldly in defiance of King George, and to offer upon the alter of freedom the lives of her countrymen. No township in Bradford County is inhabited by a more excellent class of citizens than is Smithfield. The interest she has always taken in education, and the moral training of her citizens makes her a star in the thirty-seven townships of “Old Bradford.” Smithfield with a population of 1,825 souls, supports seventeen public schools, and six churches. During the last school year the amount paid for teachers’ wages was $2,260; the attendance of pupils was 391. Every means is used to promote the temperance cause, and there is not at present a licensed hotel or saloon in the township. Another commendable feature of the town is that it contains a great reading people. Over six hundred periodicals are taken from the office every week. Smithfield by the last census contained 251 farms, 436 families and 385 dwellings.
When Dixie’s cry of disunion spread gloom throughout the land, Smithfield nobly responded to her country’s call with as gallant a lot of soldiers as ever donned the blue. Of these 200 heroes nearly 50 sleep in Southern graves, while others were brought home to die of wounds or diseases. In 1871 the citizens of the township erected a monument at East Smithfield to perpetuate the memory of their neighbors who had given their lives to their country. At present this is the only soldiers’ monument in the county. To keep bright the memories of the past--the scenes of camp life, the battlefield and the march, and to meet in soldierly love and sympathy, Phelps Post has been organized by the soldiers of Smithfield and vicinity. It has many very excellent members, and is one of the most prosperous in the county.
BRADFORD REPORTER, Towanda, PA, May 22, 1884
Smithfield has produced some eminent characters, of which she may well feel proud. The star among these is C.C. Martin, superintendent of the great East River bridge, one of the most remarkable pieces of mechanical skill and ingenuity of our age. Mr. Martin directed the entire construction of the bridge, and is now retained as its superintendent with a salary of $6,000. Mr. Martin was brought up in the family of Mr. E. S. Tracy. Showing a mathematical turn of mind Mr. Tracy assisted him in taking a course in civil engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, from which he graduated with high honor. It is, however, due our venerable friend, Rev. C. C. Corss, to state that he first discovered the fertility of his mind, and gave him his first instruction in mathematics. John Bascom, president of the Wisconsin State University, was also a Smithfield boy. Charles Chapin Tracy, and eminent missionary of Western Turkey, and Judge Hale, of California, are other products of Smithfield's soil. Other of Smithfield's sons well known to Bradford County people are Benjamin M. Peck, William Peck, John N. Califf, and James H. Webb. Among those of an earlier day, of whom sketches will be given, we would mention Judge Bullock, Rev. C. C. Corss, Colonel W. E. Barton and others.
The following are the officers of the eventful Presidential year: Commissioners, E. G. Kingsley, Clayton Gerould, J. W. Scouten; Town Clerk, A. E. Child; Justices of the Peace, L. D. Forest, L. W. Forest; Treasurer, Samuel Hamilton; Constable, Augustus Phelps; Assessor, O. Kellogg; School Directors, H. S. Newman, Jessie Sumner, F. H. Scott, L. S. Gerould, H. Huntington, C. F. Gerould; Auditors, A. R. Dutton, J. S. Doty, H. Hamilton; Judge of Election, George N. Bird; Inspectors, B. C. Thomas.
In 1809 the township of Smithfield was set off from Ulster, one of the original towns of which it had previously been a part. It extended from its present eastern line west to the west line of the county, being nineteen miles in length by eight miles in width. In 1814 the township was divided into three equal parts, forming the townships of Smithfield, Springfield, and Columbia. About the same territory had been formerly surveyed under the Connecticut title into the townships of Smithfield, Murraysfield and Cabot. Smithfield was surveyed and allotted, in September 1795, by Zachariah Olmstead, who intended to make himself a home there. Other proprietors were David Smith, Samuel Balls, Colonel J. Jenkins, Caleb Tyler, Joseph Witter, Oliver Crary, Chester Brigham, a Mr. Coleman, and others.
The first settler in the territory included in the township of Smithfield, was a man named Grover, who made a small clearing and build a "shanty" opposite the present residence of Daniel Carpenter, in 1792, which, however, he soon abandoned, moving it is said, to the valley of Towanda Creek. The family was found alone in the wilderness by the surveyors when they came in to run out the lands. The Grover children, alarmed at their strange faces, scattered like a brood of young partridges when disturbed. The first permanent settler was Reuben Mitchell, who came in with his family from Rhode Island in 1794, and who for about four years were the only inhabitants of the township. One of his children died during this time, and he was compelled to go to Ulster for assistance to bury it. Mitchell moved into the cabin which had been vacated by Grover, which was on the lands that he had purchased. He came in under the ever-present Connecticut title, and with others suffered loss thereby. He purchased of David Smith, with whom he subsequently had a protracted lawsuit for the recovery of the purchase-money, which was finally decided in his favor by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Mr. Mitchell went West in 1810 or thereabouts, where he died at the age of seventy-five years. He had eight children, some of whose descendants are yet residents of the township. The Mitchell boys were great trappers. They caught many bears and frequently a panther. On the run about a half mile east of what is now East Smithfield, they sat their trap for bruin and caught a bear each night for seven successive nights. This must have been enchanted ground for bears. In connection with the Mitchell family, we must mention the following case, as given us by Rev. C. C. Corse; "Welcome Mitchell, who lived to the age of seventy-six years, was a deaf mute; but in addition to being deaf and dumb, at the age of seventy became entirely blind. From that time it was very difficult to hold any conversation with him. Indeed, the family found it impossible to communicate to him the death of his sister, although she had constantly had the care of him for years. He had habits peculiar to himself. Nearly every day he went into a particular chamber in the house, where he bowed, took off his hat, turned around in a certain way, and then went downstairs again. What his ideas were in doing it was impossible to ascertain. Daily and sometimes several times in a day he walked to the corn house, opened the door and went in. After standing a few moments, he walked about the floor, turning his face towards one and then another of the cribs of the different sides of the room, as if examining what they contained. But he did not take off his hat as he did when he entered the chamber. Whether he was in the habit of doing this before he lost his eyesight does not appear. Whenever he adjusted his collar or handkerchief about his neck, which he did many times in a day, he usually took his position before the looking-glass. He continued these practices as long as he was able to walk, which was till within two months of his death. He was also in the habit of shaving himself till confined to his bed in his last sickness. When the shaving tools were handed to him he took his position before the looking -glass, so as to be sure it was before him, and then proceeded to shave himself. What his ideas were in standing before the glass, when totally blind, could not be ascertained. Was it the mere force of habit? or did he think that the glass had something to do with the operation of shaving?"
About 1798, several men commenced improvements, among whom the names of Foster, Baldwin, Waterman, Wheeler, and a colored man named "Caesar," are recollected. They soon abandoned their improvements or sold them, and left for other parts.
In 1799, Couch, Needham, and others began clearings in the southeastern part of the township some of whom became permanent residents, removing after several years' struggle for a livelihood. In 1799, also, came James Saterlee, from Otsego County, NY, at or near the village of East Smithfield. He and his family and effects were in the first wagon that passed from Athens to Springfield, and were two days in making the journey, having to camp out one night, the distance being about ten miles. Two of their children, a boy and girl, were in the woods some months after their arrival in the town, picking berries, accompanied by a pet shoat of about one hundred and fifty pounds weight, which was also engaged in the same pleasant business of berry-picking. Hearing an outcry from the pig, the children looked around and saw their pet in the arms of a bear, who was leisurely walking off on his hind legs with the squalling shoat. Bruin secured his prize and dined off of fresh pork, the remainder of the feast being found the next day about two miles from the place of capture
. Mr. Saterlee was a soldier in the Revolutionary war and was a pensioner. Mr. Saterlee was once arrested on suspicion of shooting one of the surveyors of the Pennsylvania title, but proving an alibi was discharged, but his defense cost him all of his property. The arrangement had been recently made by the settlers, who chose their best marksman to watch the house when the surveyors were staying over the Sabbath, and shoot at the first man who came out, firing just as closely as possible without hitting him; but the aim was a trifle too accurate, and the surveyor was wounded. Mr. Saterlee was originally from Stonington, Connecticut. His family consisted of his wife, one son and two daughters. William, the son, died in 1811, unmarried. One of the daughters married Abram Pierce, and the other Judge Bullock. The girl who lost her pet pig was afterwards Mrs. Bullock.
A bear once slid down a tree close by which Mrs. Bullock was just then passing, with the probable intention of giving the young lady a hug, but which attentions were not reciprocated, as she lost no time in getting to a safe distance from her too ardent admirer
. Colonel Samuel Saterlee came from Connecticut to Smithfield in the same year, 1799, and located three miles northwest of the Centre. He had no children. He was at Fort Erie when it was besieged by the British in the war of 1812. He was a member of the Legislature from Lycoming County in 1810 or 1811, which county then included that portion of Bradford County.
Oliver Hays came in 1799, and located on the place occupied by _____ _____. He moved to the West with his family in 1820. In 1800, Timothy Stratton, Dr. Dartt, and some others came and settled, but after a few years of discouragement abandoned their possessions, and moved elsewhere out of the county
. Michael Bird was by profession a barber, in Boston, then an honored and lucrative business. He had often dressed the heads of John Quincy Adams, and other prominent men of that day. His business failing on account of the changing of the fashions, he went to Rutland, Vermont, where he bought a Connecticut claim and came to Smithfield in 1801, and located his farm about one and a half miles from the Centre, which is still occupied by the Bird family. His experience was most trying, being wholly unacquainted with farming, and unused to pioneer life. His family used to make wooden brooms, which he sold at the river, bringing on his back the meal he earned by his work during the week, and a pound of butter, bought with a broom and thus were the family supplies procured from week to week. A change has happily come over the scene, and the family which bought a pound of butter, with a splint broom, now sell the popular article by the ton. He learned the business of farming, in which he became as skillful in the art of handling the axe and plow as he had been in the use of the razor and shears. He hewed out of the forest a fine farm, cleared up by himself and sons, on which he peacefully died in 1875, at the age of eighty-three years. Mr. Bird was twice married and had a family of seven children. Two died in infancy, the other five arrived at the years of maturity. These were Fannie, John, Eliza, Harry and Laura. Of these only Eliza is living, she being now eighty-seven years of age.
BRADFORD REPORTER - Towanda, Pa., May 29, 1884
In 1800, Jabez Gerould came from Connecticut to Bradford County, Pa. He was a descendant of the third generation of Dr. James Gerould, a French Huguenot, who left Paris about 1680, and settled in Medfield, Massachusetts, where he practiced medicine for many years. Mr. Gerould came to the Susquehanna near its headwaters, from which point he, with his family, floated down the river upon a slab-raft to Queen Ester's flats, so called, where they resided for a short time, and in 1800 came to Smithfield and prepared a log house for the reception of his family, near the present residence of William Carpenter. In 1801 they took possession and established their home in the house so prepared. About one year afterwards, 1802, Mr. Gerould was taken suddenly ill. A messenger was sent in haste to Tioga Point, but he died before medical aid could reach him. He left eight children, seven sons and a daughter, the oldest being but sixteen years of age. They remained with their mother until 1806, when the daughter was married and went to her own home. The mother for a time supported the family largely by her own efforts. She would go on foot to the river, a distance of five miles, take flax to spin and receive pay therefor in meal. Many times the family went to bed supperless after a day's labor.
The family occupied the log house until 1812, when they removed to a new framed house near the present residence of Gorham Tracey. Mrs. Gerould lived to a good old age much esteemed by all who knew her. At the time of her death, in 1829, all of her children were living and in attendance at her funeral. The eight children of the Gerould family were Ziba, Jabez, Abel and Theodore. All are now dead, but each left a family. That the Geroulds were a numerous family may be seen from the notes on the Gerould's family reunion, held at Smithfield in 1874. At that date the descendants of the children of Jabez Gerould numbered 335; 92 others were dead, giving a grand total of 427 descendants of the seven boys and one girl who played in the cabin in the wilds of Smithfield in 1801. Seventeen of these descendants served in the war of the Rebellion, five of whom were killed.
General Alfred H. Terry, of Fort Fisher fame, and the hero of many later gallant exploits, married a member of the Gerould family, she being born on the self-same day with her husband.
Of the name Gerould, none have been known to have been drunkards, or gamblers, or to have been tried for a criminal offense.
In 1800, Captain Solomon Morse came in from Poultney, Vermont, and located north of Smithfield Centre. His main business for years was that of teaming. He furnished the merchants at Tioga Point with goods, bringing them from Philadelphia in wagons. Mr. Morse was a benevolent gentleman, and a man of intelligence. He took a great pride in the early trainings, and was a military Captain. He died in Troy township in 1816, where he was living with one of his sons. He had a family of five children, all of whom are now dead. There are no descendants of this family in Smithfield.
Samuel Kellogg also came to Smithfield from Poultney, Vermont, in 1800, located on the place now occupied by S. H. Wilcox. Mr. Kellogg with his family, floated down the Susquehanna on a raft, from the outlet of Otsego lake, making an exceedingly perilous passage. The whole party were submerged several times in making the transit of the rapids. Mr. Kellogg was a clothier by trade, and while living at Smithfield invented a machine for sheaving cloth which revolutionized the manufacture of woolen goods, but brought no pecuniary benefit to the inventor. Mr. Kellogg was a poor man, and the privations which he and his family suffered will bear repeating. After he had moved his family to Smithfield, he found employment in the fulling mill of Deacon Crockett, at Milltown. He would leave his family on Monday morning, and again return on Saturday evening with a week's supply of corn-meal for the family upon his back. One occasion a man on horseback chanced to come his way, who represented himself as being from Smithfield. Mr. Kellogg asked his kindness to transporting to his family a small grist for him as he would pass their abode on his return to Springfield. This the stranger readily consented to do. When Mr. Kellogg returned to his family on Saturday evening he found them out of provisions and that the "Springfield man" had accidentally forgotten to carry out his promise. Mr. Kellogg was accordingly required to go back to Milltown again that night to supply the wants of a starving family. His night's journey was indeed a gloomy one--his road was only a path through an unbroken wilderness, and the wolves were howling on all sides. He obtained his grist, shouldered it, and again started for home which he reached as the sun was climbing the eastern hill-tops. At another time as he was coming up the valley--from Green's Landing, with his grist on his back, it became so dark that he could not keep the half-formed foot-path. The only way by which he kept his course was by feeling the moss on the north side of the trees. He, however did not reach home until the next morning. We could repeat many similar circumstances of those "trying times," but space forbids at this time.
Samuel Kellogg, or "Deacon Kellogg," as he was commonly known, was a very pious gentleman, endowed with a fine degree of intelligence. He was a man well educated, ingenious, skillful in the use of tools, and an excellent mathematician. He served as a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and was personally acquainted with General Washington. He was at Washington's inauguration in New York in 1789, and frequently repeated the ode which Washington selected for that occasion. It was from Sir Isaac Watts, the first stanza of which we will repeat:
"Mercy and judgement are my song; And since they both to Thee belong My gracious God, my righteous King To Thee my songs and vows I bring."
Mr. Kellogg lived in the township until the time of his death. After the death of his first wife he married Mrs. Phineas Pierce. Descendants of his family are yet living in the township.
Phineas Pierce came from Poultney, Vermont, in June, 1803, and located about two miles northwest of the Centre on the property now owned by Dr. Cowell. When Mr. Pierce moved in he brought his goods as far as Tioga Point in a wagon drawn by an ox-team and a horse. Here he had to leave his wagon and build a sled to transfer his goods, as there was only a path through the forest which in many cases had to be cut larger before his pioneer train could pass through. On reaching the lands which Mr. Pierce had purchased under the Connecticut title, he at once set to work and erected a log cabin which he covered with bark, using a blanket for the door. He at once began a clearing, and that same year planted a small crop of corn and potatoes among the logs. Mr. Pierce came into the wilderness prepared for pioneer enterprise. He brought with him an anvil and bellows, and iron for a sawmill; and soon after he came in he erected a mill on the Tom Jack Creek, about eighty rods north of where O. E. Wilcox now lives. This was the first saw-mill built in the township. Mr. Pierce was doing a good work in the wilderness, when he was taken suddenly ill and died in 1808. His demise threw a great burden upon Mrs. Pierce, as she must now provide for herself and a family of small children. The wants of the family she met by taking in weaving and spinning. Mr. Pierce had been twice married, and had a large family. Of the children ten grew to mature years, others died in infancy.
Phineas Pierce, Jr., located near his father. He married Anna Kellogg, a daughter of Deacon Kellogg. He enlisted in July 1814, in the United States service in a volunteer regiment under Colonel Dobbins, and went to the Niagara frontier, and was killed in a skirmish with the enemy in September of that year. Mr. Pierce was commonly known as "Squire Pierce," he being a commissioned Justice of the Peace. His father had also acted in the same capacity and was known as "Old Squire Pierce". Of the Pierce family all are now dead except Mrs. Luke Perkins and "Uncle Harry Pierce," two very bright, interesting old people, of whom space will be given in subsequent letters. all of the children of Phineas Pierce did not locate in Smithfield.
Joshua Eames (Ames), who enlisted with Mr. Pierce in the war of 1812, was also an early settler of the township. He died in October, 1814, of disease contracted while in the service, leaving Mrs. Eames with a family of twelve children.
Colonel Samuel Satterlee also enlisted at the same time. Mrs. Eunice Satterlee, widow of the Colonel, died in Smithfield at the age of ninety-two years. She was born in Connecticut in February, 1777, and her father John Pierce, soon after her birth, removed to Wyoming Valley where he was killed at the massacre and battle in 1778. Her mother escaped with little Eunice, then aged about eighteen months, to the mountains, and partly led and partly carried her across the wilderness for sixty miles to the settlement on the Delaware river, whence they returned to Connecticut. She married another man named John Pierce, and by him had one son, John L., who lived to be a very old man. He died in Smithfield.
Nehemiah Tracy came to Smithfield in 1805, from Connecticut, and located on the place now occupied by his grandson, Selden Tracy. He belonged to an important and prominent family in Connecticut. His ancestors came over in the Mayflower in 1620. Uriah Tracy, United States Senator from Connecticut, was a relative, and at the impeachment of Judge Chase was carried into the Senate chamber to vote--he being at the time dangerously ill. Mr. Tracy came in under the Connecticut title, and finding it invalid in Pennsylvania, engaged Michael R. Thorp, a land-agent and speculator, to secure the Pennsylvania title for his lands, agreeing to pay him fifty cents per acre for so doing. Thorp misrepresented the case to Tracy, and took out the patent in his own name, and Tracy gave a bond for $3,000 to Thorp in payment for the land, and gave deeds to the other settlers. Before the bond became due Tracy died, and Judge Bullock was appointed administrator of the estate. In examining the letters of Tracy the administrator found a letter from Thorp giving an account of the transaction that led to the suspicion of something wrong in the matter. Mr. Phelps who had heard the conversation between the parties remembered the whole transaction, whereupon the judgment was opened, and upon the re-hearing Thorp was non-suited. By this suit Thorp lost everything, was deprived of his agencies, and the very fire-wood at his door was sold to pay the costs. Thorp accordingly did as most scamps do after they are found out--leave the country.
Mr. Tracy had a family of seven sons, who were of great service to him in clearing up his lands. These were James O, Ornell, Arobel, Buckley, James Gorham, Benajah, and E. Seldon. Mr. Tracy died in 1815. He was a very ardent member of the Congregational Church, and one of its most liberal supporters. When the little church was erected at East Smithfield in 1811, Mr. Tracy donated most generously. He sold the last cow to meet one of his installments, and was at the same time striving with poverty in providing for the wants of a large family. Mrs. Tracy survived her husband many years. Of the sons, "Uncle Gorham" and E. Seldon are yet living, highly esteemed, intelligent old gentlemen. John Bassett came to the township in 1806. After his death the family went to Illinois. In 1807 Noah Ford and Elias Needham came in from Cooperstown, N.Y., and left the township again in 1818. In 1808, Alvin Stocking and Alpheus Holcmb came into the township. The former died on his farm in 1817, and the latter removed about that time from the place. For a digression, we will at this time give Mrs. Judge Bullock's description of:
THE FIRST QUILTING IN SMITHFIELD. "A voice is sounding in my ear, It is the voice of years that's gone-- They all roll before me with the scenes."
"In the autumn of 1799, a family had found their way through the wilderness to this immediate neighborhood. A clearing had been made and a small log house erected for their accommodation. The family consisted of a man, his wife and two small children. Sad, indeed, was the fate of that young wife! She had been accustomed to the comforts and refinements of civilized life in her Eastern home, and truly the howling of the wolf and the screaming of the panther were not pleasant music in her ear. No wonder her energies were prostrated, and her courage failed when she had been in her new home a few weeks. Her husband endeavored to encourage her with the hope that they would soon be surrounded by neighbors and friends, and she would again enjoy the privileges of which she was now deprived. She told him if she only had two or three neighbors with whom she could associate she would feel more reconciled. He told her that there were two or three families living within a couple of miles, and if she could see them he thought she would be pleased, and if she would get up a quilting he would invite them to come. She thought the plan a good one and he started out to invite the guests. On his return he told her that her invitations were kindly accepted, and as there was no track through the woods he had invited Colonel Couch, whose lade would be of the party, to be their escort, and while the ladies were busy about the quilt he and the Colonel would have a social visit together. The good wife was delighted--company coming--what a treat, and the Colonel going to take tea with them. How kind, and now the preparations commenced with alacrity and zeal. The pie and cake were baked; the little log house scrubbed, and every nook and corner scoured; the dishes were arranged in rows that would show to the best advantage; the bed was made up very high, and the best quilt spread upon it. The good lady wished to give her neighbors a good opinion of herself and her ability for housekeeping. When the time at last came she was dressed ready to receive her company. Everything about the house presented a cheerful, cosy appearance, and new life seemed to animate the family. The husband especially seemed to enjoy it greatly. When the company arrived the young wife was a little embarrassed though she was introduced to her guests with the utmost politeness and ceremony. The Colonel was a gentleman about fifty years of age, large and portly, with a large flat face. He was in independent circumstances, that is, whatever he needed he procured without much trouble or expense. He was not under the necessity of going to a fashionable clothing establishment to purchase his dress, as he wore only two garments, and they were made of deer skins, dressed and made up by himself. The sleeve came out but a little below the elbow the balance of being bare. The pants came about half-way from the knee to the ankle. Hat and shoes he wore none, his lady having borrowed them for the occasion. The dress she wore was probably her wedding dress, as it had seen much hard service. She wore no cap, and her long gray hair was braided and hung between her shoulders, tied with a leather string, with her husband's hat sat gently on her head, and his shoes on her feet, to which she had attached an enormous pair of buckles by way of ornament. She considered her costume complete. Both Colonel and his lady were the happiest people in existence. the material of which their clothing was made rendered washing unnecessary, and they lived at the ease in quiet happiness. The young wife felt a little nervous when she saw the stitches which were being put into her nice quilt. She got an early tea, as the quilt had to be swung up to make room for the table. The company enjoyed their visit, and when they started for home, and the good lady stood in her door to pass the parting compliments her eye followed them as they passed out of the clearing. She turned to her husband and said: "Oh! James are those people our neighbors?" With a pleasant smile he said: "Yes, are you not pleased with them?" She admitted she was. They had a good hearty laugh, and so the affair ended."
BRADFORD REPORTER, Towanda, PA June 5, 1884
In 1809 Samuel Wood resolved to change his residence to a more hospitable climate, and find, if possible, a more fruitful soil; as the sterile soil of New England afforded by a precarious subsistence. Accordingly having sold the property he had accumulated in Halifax, Vermont, he, with his oldest sons, Moses, Ezra and Jonathan, started out on a voyage of discovery in the early part of the season of 1809. The course of their travels led them to the tavern of John Shephard, three miles above the present village of Athens, where they stopped for the night. There they learned that their landlord had a possession right to 360 acres of land, some twelve to fourteen miles in a southwesterly direction, and he set forth the advantages of his possession in such a favorable light, that he came hither with Mr. Shephard to view the land. A bargain was accordingly concluded between them, and we here transcribe a copy of the original document: "Memorandum of an agreement between John Shephard, of the township of Tioga County of Lycoming, State of Pennsylvania, of the first part, and Samuel Wood, of Halifax, County of Windham, and State of Vermont of the second part, Witnesseth: That the party of the first doth agree to procure a deed from Dr. Robert H. Rose, agent for the Bingham estate, for three hundred and sixty acres of land of the two south lots laid out for Phineas Pearce and others, in the township of Smithfield, for which the party of the second part agrees to pay to the party of the first part, viz: One hundred and sixty-six and two-thirds bushels of wheat by the last day of February, A. D. 1810, and one hundred and sixty-six and two-thirds bushels of wheat by the last day of February, 1812, to be delivered between the mouth of Sugar Creek and Tioga Point; also one hundred and seventeen dollars with interest from date, three years from date, and further sum of one hundred and seventeen dollars with interest from date, four years from date, and further to agree to make immediate settlement on said land. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hand and seal. JOHN SHEPHARD, (SEAL.) SAMUEL WOOD, (SEAL.) May, A. D., 1809. Signed and sealed in the presence of Isaac Shephard and Moses Wood."
(To keep a large family and meet their demands from a farm yet to be cleared, it is needless to say was impossible, and the contract was never carried out.
Leaving the boys at work Mr. Wood started back after the family, with which, after various vicissitudes he landed on the river near Milan, on the 3d of September, in 1809. Thence came to the place for which he had contracted, and at once began his efforts to subdue the wilderness. Through the diligent efforts of himself and sons "the wilderness was made to bud blossom as the rose."
Mr. Wood was twice married, and had a family of twenty children. These were Amasa, Eunice, Moses, Samuel, Lois, Ezra, Jonathan, Nathan, Rebecca, Abraham and Amasa, of the first wife; and Samuel, Barnard, Elizabeth, Lefa, Amy and Darius B., of the second wife.
Three of the children died in Vermont, eleven moved with their parents to Smithfield, and six others were born in the township, one of which died young. Sixteen of the children were married, and had a family each. They are now all dead. The descendants of the family of Samuel Wood reside in fifteen different States.
Mr. Wood was a volunteer in the Revolutionary war. An incident of his service is thus related: In 1780, he was stationed with a small detachment at North Castle, near the city of New York, and while there a prisoner was brought in by three soldiers, who had taken him under suspicious circumstances. He was sent to West Point under a guard of four of the detachment, Mr. Wood being one. The prisoner was put on a horse, and a girth passed under the animal's body, and fastened to both of the prisoner's ankles. About midnight the guard in the midst of a drenching rain left North Castle. One of the guard led the horse, one went by each side, and one brought up the rear, all with loaded guns and fixed bayonets, with orders to kill him at once if there should be any attempt at escape or rescue. On reaching West Point the guard learned that their prisoner was none other than Major Andre, the British spy.
In 1809 Ashael Scott came in from Windham County, Vermont, and settled about one mile northeast of the Centre, on the farm now owned by D. M. Young. Here he suffered the hardships incident to pioneer life, and battled with the wild woods in trying to gain a foothold in the new country of the West. More than once did the family want for a sufficiency of food. One spring after the potatoes had been planted, and had sprouted, the seeds were taken up and eaten; and frequently the family were reduced to blackberries and milk for a dinner or supper. Mr. Scott raised a family of eight children, all of whom reached the years of maturity. They were Ansel, Ashael, Jr., Aaron C., Benjamin P. Lydia, Eliza, Celia and Elmira. Of these only Eliza is living, and she at Peoria, Illinois. Numerous descendants of this family are scattered throughout the township, a highly respected, intelligent lot of citizens. Mr. Scott died in 1850.
John Scott came to the township about 1803, from Milford, Otsego County, N. Y., and located on the place now occupied by his son Levi. He had previously lived in the East, and moved from thence to New York State. Mr. Scott had a family of five children, Bathsheba, Thomas, Susan, Levi and Sarah. Of these Bethsheba, "Widow Tracy," Susan, "Widow Adams," and Levi are yet living in the township. Mr. Scott's father, William Scott, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. John Scott was no relation to Ashael Scott.
From 1809 to 1811, Major Jared Phelps, Sloan Kingsley, Isaac Ames, John Phelps, David Titus, Abner W. Ormsby, Deacon Zephaniah Ames, and Isaiah Kingsley from Becket, Massachusetts, came in and settled in the same neighborhood, from which fall that neighborhood was called Becket. Titus settled on the farm now owned by Israel Phillips, about three miles west of the Centre. Ormsby settled on the farm now owned by his son Levi, about two and one-half miles southwest of the Centre, and died in 1842. Deacon Ames settled on the farm now owned by William Waldron, and left the township in 1818. Isaiah Kingsley settled about four miles southwest of the Centre, on the farm now occupied by Merritt Wood. Major Phelps' farm includes the present village of East Smithfield. He served through the Revolutionary War, and held the position of fife-major from which he acquired his title. His daughter Polly died the same year of his settlement. The neighbors cleared off a little spot in the dense woods where they prepared her grave, which became afterwards a portion of the cemetery, near the Congregational Church in Smithfield, she being the first burial therein. Mr. Phelps was an energetic and substantial citizen, and left a large and respectable family. The grounds owned by the Congregational Church, at East Smithfield, were donated by him.
About 1813, Austin and Chauncey Kellogg came to reside in the township, and their brother Luman came in 1816. All of them left with their families many years ago.
David Forrest, a Revolutionary soldier, from Windham County, Vermont, came in the township in 1814. This year, also, Stephen Wilcox, Rufus Harley, and Abner Thomas, came with others, and commenced settlements in the northwest part of the township. In 1812, Deacon Asa Hackett and family came; in 1813, Asa Farnsworth and his family; in 1814, William Farnsworth, Stephen Califf, Seth Gates, Daniel Forrest, and Tartius Rose all came with their families; in 1815, Deacon Benjamin Hall, David Durfey, Joseph Ames, and Cyril Fairman came; in 1817 Asa Allen; in 1818, Joel Allen; and in 1819, Deacon Cromwell Child, Edward Child and Ezra and Daniel Allen came, all of them with families. George Lampkinson came in 1820. He was a sailor during the war of 1812 in the United States service, and served the greater portion of the time on the frigate "President," under Commodore Rogers. Not unfrequently he entertained his neighbors with his graphic accounts of his "moving accidents by flood," and "hairbreadth escapes".
Conrad (Coonrad) Hartman, a Hessian, and a worthy man, came to reside in the township some time previous to 1816. He was forced into the service of the Elector of Hesse-Cassel, on the latter's contract with George III., and brought to America to assist the British king in subduing his rebellious subjects--the colonists. He was under Colonel Rohl and was taken prisoner at Trenton (others state at the surrender of Burgoyne,) where the Colonel was killed in December 1776. He joined the American cause and served faithfully until the close of the war. He married and settled in New England, and had two children, a son and a daughter. Upon the death of his wife the children became separated from him. His son was killed on the Niagara frontier where they resided, by a foray of small body of British troops, in April, 1813. Soon after this the father came to reside with his daughter, who had moved to the township with the family of Solomon Morse in 1800. She married Calvin Cranmer, with whom Mr. Hartman lived until the time of his death in 1828. Mrs. Cranmer lived to be eighty-two years of age. Nehemiah Beach and family came into the township in 1818. Mr. Beach lived to be an aged gentleman.
The first framed building in the township, a dwelling house, was erected by Reuben Mitchell, the second was erected by Nehemiah Tracy, in 1805
. The first saw-mill was erected by Phineas Pierce 1803 or 1804, and Mr. Tracy built the second one. Mr. Pierce also built the first framed barn in the township.
The first grist mill was erected in 1808 by Solomon Morse. This stood about one-fourth of a mile west of the Centre.
The first, and for many years the only, school house in the town, was built in 1807. It was a log building, and answered for school purposes for the whole settlement. It was located about half a mile east of the Centre. Ephraim Gerould taught the first school in it. Schools were maintained for a few weeks or months each year for several years, the teachers being paid for their services in labor by those who hired them. The first framed school house was built at the Centre in 1818.
The first permanent merchants were Lyman Durfey and Selden Tracy, both of whom commenced business at East Smithfield in 1833. Mr. Tracy yet continues in the mercantile trade, and is the oldest merchant in Bradford County.
The first death that occurred in the township was one of the children of Reuben Mitchell, who died before 1797.
The first white child born in the township was also a member of the same family, born previous to that death.
The first church edifice was erected in 1811 by the Congregational society. It was a small one, but was used by that society until 1861, when their present elegant structure was erected. Rev. John Bascom was their first preacher, who came here in 1813, and was ordained in January 1816.
The Congregational Church was organized in Poultney, Vermont, February 11, 1801, by Rev. Elijah Norton and Lemuel Haynes, the celebrated colored preacher. The church then consisted of Solomon Morse, Samuel Kellogg, Esq., and Nathan Fellows. They chose Samuel Kellogg their moderator, and were commended to the grace of God. Their articles of faith were penned by Mr. Haynes, and they immediately started for the "Far West," arriving the same month on the ground of what is now "East Smithfield".
The first record of the church, dated May 16, 1801, is the record of the baptism of Jemima Almira Morse, daughter of Solomon Morse, Rev. James Thompson officiating.
The first business meeting of the church, was August 16, 1801, when Sarah Kellogg and Jemima Morse were received into the church on profession of faith; and in November following Lydia Dutton was received by letter from the church in Poultney, Vermont.
In the year 1802, Rev. James Wood, under the Connecticut Congregational Missionary Society, preached the first sermon and administered the first communion to the church in a log school house which stood near the foot of what is now called Mitchell's Hill. The communion table was a large plank, split from a log with a beetle and wedges, and hewed with a broad axe; the table legs were sticks driven into auger holes in the plank. The wine used was the unfermented juice of wild grapes tempered with water and maple sugar. It was a season of great enjoyment to the little church. All of its original members have now passed to their final rest.
In 1810 a Baptist Church was organized, and Rev. Jonathan Stine was its first pastor, who came here in the spring of 1814, and was ordained in June, 1815; the meeting for the ordination was held in the barn of Samuel Wood. (The plank on which the reverend gentleman stood during the ceremony is preserved by Mr. W. A. Wood. In 1819 this society built a large meeting house, being 36x50 feet, with twenty-two feet posts, all of heavy timbers, and well garnished with studs and brace. At the raising of this church the "Smithfield boys" had the body of the building up, and the plates on in fifty-six minutes from the time they began work.
A literary society was organized in the township in 1821, the members being David Farnsworth, Ansel Scott, Harry Bird, Buckley Tracy and Darius Bullock--all young single men, except the latter. It was continued for some years to the advantage and benefit to its members and others.
As it may be of interest to our young readers, who are witnesses of the high-toned weddings of to-day, we will give them the hymeneal contrast of eighty years ago.
THE FIRST WEDDING IN SMITHFIELD
The day set apart for the noteworthy occasion had at last arrived, and there was gladness in the log-cabin of Elias Needham. The day was to witness the marriage of Constant Williams and Miss Lucy Needham. Accordingly the log-cabin was put in the very best shape and arrangements made for the "wedding supper." The affair was to be in secret, and only a few of the neighbors were invited, among whom was "Squire Pierce," who was to perform the ceremony. When the company arrived they found the young swains blushing in their homespun garbs--of course at the thought that they were soon to stand before the "Squire" and answer yes to those "serious knotty questions," that by a peculiar process of addition put one and one together, with only one for a result. After the ceremony had been gone through with, the festive board was prepared to receive the "wedding-knicknacks," which were baking in the stone-oven without. These were corn-cakes and baked beans. When all were ready to partake of this luxurious repast, it was found that the oven had been deprived of its fruit, and that the company must retire supperless. "Who had done the mischief?" We will explain. "The secret" was not kept, and nearly the whole neighborhood had been posted on the forthcoming wedding, which was held in a neighbor's house near by. Accordingly the ox-teams were hitched to sleighs, and the people were brought out, old and young. Needham's oven was watched, and when an opportunity presented itself the corn-cake and beans were slipped out and eaten by the "merry singers". In the evening the young people participated in a good old-fashioned "shin-dig." to make more complete the memory of the first wedding in Smithfield.
INCIDENT AND REMINISCENCE
In the year 1820, about the 20th of January, a sad and frightful accident occurred, by which the wife and child of Austin Kellogg lost their lives, being burned to death, or suffocated. Mrs. Kellogg had been "hatchelling" flax--some forty pounds being about completed--from which the lint or cotton had filled the room with particles more or less fine. It was supposed a coal of fire fell from the fire-place into this lint or loose tord, when it immediately blazed into flame, filling the room. A sister ran out of the house for help and escaped, a little girl, Louisa Kellogg (afterwards Mrs. VanDusen), also stepped out of doors, and also escaped harm. Mrs. Kellogg, as it was supposed, took an infant child from the cradle, and went into a bed-room, as the only avenue of escape, when the flames followed her as she opened the door by which she was overwhelmed or suffocated, as otherwise she might have escaped through the window. On the 20th of July, 1847, a singular occurrence transpired, which is related as follows: The day was an extremely pleasant one, even for that time of the year--the heavens were apparently cloudless, with the exception of a few fleecy cumuli, which skirted Pisgah, or rested on the Towanda mountains, and the inhabitants, busily engaged in their various avocations, had failed to notice a small black cloud, which without intercepting the rays of the sun, had assumed a vertical position over the village.
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